Australia’s new government is seeking to remove the Queen as its head of state after being bound to Great Britain for over 200 years.
The news was announced just two days before Britain was set to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, with Her Majesty becoming the first UK Monarch to celebrate 70 years of service.
Australia’s newly elected Labour leader, Anthony Albanese, created a new role in his government of “assistant minister for the republic” and raised the prospect of a referendum on whether to replace the Queen as head of state.
A Sydney MP, Matt Thistlethwaite, has taken up the role and said that when Prince Charles becomes King, “that would be the natural point, I think, when a lot of Australians would say, ‘OK, the Queen has done a fantastic job but it’s now time for us to look to the future’”.
At the news of the appointment, Peter FitzSimons, a prominent Republican, tweeted: “Let the record show, for the first time in the history of the Commonwealth, Australia has a member of the government singularly devoted to removing the crown, and helping Australia become a republic.”
Thistlethwaite said on Wednesday he hopes to educate Australians about the current constitutional arrangements but that the only referendum that will be held in his first term is on an Indigenous voice in parliament and constitutional recognition for First Nations people.
He said: “Australians revere the Queen. I’ve got a lot of respect for her and she is very much loved in our nation.
“Now it’s time for us to stand on our own two feet. We’ve got our own identity and culture. We’re a confident, mature nation. Surely we can appoint one of our own as our head of state for the future.”
Former Prime Minister Scott Morrison said last year he supported the monarchy after there were calls to abolish it following Prince Harry and Meghan Markle ’s interview with Oprah Winfrey.